Golf courses in Central Washington

Updated: March 3, 2010

Want to play golf in the central part of a Northwest state? Don’t have six hours or the patience to drive to Central Oregon? You don’t have to. Central Washington has it all – and it’s only a two-four hour drive away from wherever you might live in the state of Washington, and not much further from anywhere else.

With the Cascade Mountains, snaking rivers, pristine air, golden vistas and a lot of apples, you can’t go wrong when heading to Central Washington. And the weather is almost always warm and sunny during the golfing season–it is especially nice in the spring and fall.

Apple Tree: The apple stands out
At over 10,000 square feet, this is one apple you don’t want to mess around with – unless you’re on the 17th green at Apple Tree in Yakima that opened in 1992. Having been featured in almost every golf publication and calendar, the signature 17th is only one great hole at this 4-Star rated Golf Digest resort.

Playing to over 6,900 yards from the tips, Apple Tree is a great test of golf with challenging holes that will keep you interested. Perhaps the hardest test comes early on the 461-yard, par-4 fourth that plays through a chute of orchards and over an expansive gully. As if the tee shot wasn’t enough to bruise your Fuji or Granny Smith, the green is elevated making the second shot equally as difficult.

The 18th hole provides a classic decision making opportunity – measuring just over 500 yards from the tips, the tee shot offers a “finger” of fairway for the most daring, or a much larger safer landing area further to the right. The approach shot, or lay-up for those less inclined, has to negotiate four small ponds that lead up to the elevated green.

Bear Mountain: Views, views, views
Bear Mountain Ranch Golf Course is truly a site for golfer’s eyes and will surely leave you in awe. There may not be a more beautiful course in the Pacific Northwest.

Set among an incredible natural setting with golf course views that are equally as stunning as the course itself, Bear Mountain Ranch has been a great addition to the Lake Chelan area.

At over 7,230 yards from the back tees, Bear Mountain Ranch is a test for the low handicapper. But it also makes sure each and every golfer can find a proper teeing ground with four additional sets of tees. The course uses the natural terrain of carved plateaus and each hole features lake and mountain views. Located three hours from Seattle, Bear Mountain Ranch also features real estate opportunities for those looking to get away from the city.

Suncadia: Resort in the mountains
Located in Roslyn, just about an hour’s drive east of Seattle, Suncadia Resort is a recent addition to the ever-expanding Central Washington golf destination landscape.

With two courses open – Prospector and the private Tumble Creek – and another on the way in 2010 (Rope Rider) Suncadia offers great golf and the anticipation of great golf.

Prospector meanders through tall pines, with lakes and creeks dotting the landscape of the 18-hole layout.

Designed by the Palmer Design Company, Prospector’s signature hole is the 10th – a par-4 playing from 318 to over 411 yards. Offering dramatic views of the Cascade Mountains and Cle Elum River Valley, the tee ball falls 120 feet to the fairway.

Be sure to check out the Inn at Suncadia where each room features a gas fireplace, deep soaking tub and furnishing inspired by nature. Another lodging option is The Lodge at Suncadia that is perched high above the Cle Elum River Valley.

With over 200 guestrooms ranging from studios to penthouse suites, Suncadia Resort will only get better when more golf opens next year.

Canyon Lakes: Reaching to the stars
Rated 4 1/2 Stars by Golf Digest and one of the top 10 best public courses in the Pacific Northwest, Canyon Lakes in Kennewick is not short on accolades. In addition to a 4-Star plus rating, Golf Digest gives Canyon Lakes a nod as one of the top 200 value golf courses in the United States. And if nothing else, the 12th hole ranks as the largest putting service in the Pacific Northwest at 12,000 square feet! If you can putt your ball, you most likely will score well at Canyon Lakes – the greens are tough and quick.

With five sets of tees measuring from 5,500 to 7,027 yards, Canyon Lakes will test the mettle of all types of golfers.

Don’t miss Canyon Lakes – it received all those rankings for a reason. Also featuring a putting course adjacent to the driving range, Canyon Lakes provides yet another way for golfers to hone their skills. Canyon Lakes has added a 3,000 square foot Champions Room that is ideal for golf outings, weddings, company parties and special events.

Highlander: You can see forever
At 800 feet above the Columbia River, is a breathtaking piece of property that boasts a golf course designed by John Steidel and built by Jim Haley, who ended up painting his brush strokes on another Northwest gem, Bandon Dunes. This one is called Highlander. And it lives up to the name.

Laced with pot bunkers, and incredible views of the Columbia River, Highlander plays to over 6,500 from the back tees. Situated only 150 miles from Seattle and 170 miles from Spokane, Highlander sits on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain Range.

The most talked about hole is the par-3 ninth, a 185-yard bear that requires a tee shot over a canyon – and you’d better be able to land your ball softly. The green slopes dramatically making a two-putt no easy feat. The back nine is gorgeous with sweeping views of the river.

With stay and play packages available in nearby Lake Chelan, and Wenatchee, Highlander boasts opportunities for multiple days of golf.

Desert Canyon: The canyon hole
Desert Canyon has undergone plenty of changes in the last year from being sold to on-course changes. But the course continues to be one of the top layouts in the Pacific Northwest.

The saga of Desert Canyon ended last year after the Central Washington resort was sold to a subsidiary of the owners of Homestead Farms in Lynden, Wash. last year.

Desert Canyon Golf Resort was acquired by Pro Desert, LLC. a subsidiary of Homestead Northwest Inc. from General Electric Capital Equities, which acquired the course after it went into bankruptcy.

The purchase included the 18-Hole Golf Course, Putting Course, Pro Shop, Restaurant, and additional buildings. Homestead originally purchased approximately 47 acres at Desert Canyon in 2003. Homestead also developed and operates the Great Links Resort at Desert Canyon that opened for business in 2004, providing overnight lodging for the golf course.

The golf course reopened last spring with a newly renovated restaurant and pro shop. Homestead will also continue the development of the property.

This 18-hole public facility delivers an experience unmatched in Central Washington. Spectacular desert terrain creates a course with desert style target golf. A premium is placed on shot accuracy and five sets of tees make Desert Canyon enjoyable for every level of golfer.

You only play at courses that receive numerous awards?

• #1 resort course in the State of Washington and ranked as the second best conditioned course in America by Golf Digest.

• The course is also home to the famous #6 canyon hole, which has been ranked as the 7th best par five in America by Golf Digest.

• 2005 Golf Digest 4 1/2 Star.

Each hole is memorable and the greens are fast and firm. Need to work on your putting – Desert Canyon also boasts a fantastic putting course.

Columbia Point: Fun for all golfers
Located in Richland, Columbia Point Golf Course is an upscale, daily fee facility built and managed by the City of Richland. Located on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains and adjacent to the Columbia River, the course measures 6,571 yards from the back tees.

Nothing too complicated greets the average golfer but the course does have water hazards and numerous bunkers that will need to be avoided. The most recognizable features are the mounds, rolling fairways and large, undulating greens. Many of the greens are surrounded by mounds which makes errant approach shots that much more penal. If your short game is MIA, you might want to get to work.

With a fully-stocked golf shop, cafe, covered patio and driving range complete with extra amenities, Columbia Point caters to every golfer from car to first tee to post-round enjoyment.

Horn Rapids: Playing in the desert
Horn Rapids Golf Club, located outside of Richland opened in 1994 and plays true to Central Washington desert style golf. With multi part fairways that wind through sand and sage, Horn Rapids provides a brilliant contrast of color between desert and greens. Set against high desert mountains, the sloping, slick greens provide plenty of character and demand on your short game.

From 6,954 yards from the back tees, this par 72 layout boasts a 73.6 rating with a slope of 130 – no easy task. For those less brave the forward tees represent just over 5,000 yards with a slope of 111.

If you have an RV, Horn Rapids RV Resort is just across the highway with 225 parking pads.

Lake Chelan: A popular stop
Lake Chelan Golf Course has always been a popular spot for golfers visiting the area. Located on the lake’s north side, Lake Chelan is a solid golf course that sits on a bluff looking at the 55-mile long lake.

Owned by the city of Chelan, there are good holes on this course that provide a nice test for visiting golfers. The views from the course make the round even more enjoyable.

You can now book tee times online by clicking on

Moses Pointe: Dry year round
Moses Pointe has been a favorite course for golfers throughout the Pacific Northwest since opening in the summer of 1999. Mike Moore, father of PGA Tour star Ryan Moore, created a visually exciting and well thought out 18 holes of desert golf.

Stretching out to a robust 7,549 yards from the tips, Moses Pointe has the teeth to give the championship player a true test as it did hosting the 2005 and 2008 Washington State Amateur Championships. Most players will be comfortable with the 6,323 yardage from the white tees, which actually plays a little shorter due to the firm fast conditions that desert golf provides.

A 2006-2007 bunker renovation and addition project put some nice final touches on an already terrific golf course, said director of golf Bill Porter.

There are a lot of reasons why golfers love Moses Pointe: 300-plus days of sunshine, a spectacular golf course that’s challenging and enjoyable for golfers of all abilities, a professional and friendly staff, and even an award winning Steakhouse that will make your day enjoyable no matter how you play.

There’s just no reason not to stop and play.

Sun Country: Now 18 holes
Sun Country operated as a 9-hole course for 35 years. In 2005 it came under new ownership. At that time the improvements began. Some holes received fairway alterations, some tees have been relocated. The RV park has been updated with new services including internet and a new restroom facility with showers.

In 2007 a 9-hole construction started under the direction of architect John Steidel. The project was completed in 2008. This project also included new irrigation to the existing 9 holes. The new holes were seeded and grown in last summer.

This spring the course opened as a full 18. A new clubhouse is planned and some site lots are available.

Sun Willows: A local favorite
Sun Willows Golf Course is a Robert Muir Graves designed public 18-hole, par-72 course. Opened in 1963 but redesigned in 1980, the club features a pro-shop, driving range, and restaurant.

A favorite of Tri-City golfers, it is a traditional, mature, challenging Northwest style course with mature trees that line rolling fairways and large undulating greens. Measuring 6,715 yards from the tips and 5,695 yards from the forward tees. There are 32 bunkers and five lakes that will keep you focused challenge your shot-making abilities.